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Architectural photography can be both challenging and rewarding due to the seemingly endless possibilities available when showcasing a structure.
All of our shoot locations within our Location Library have to be photographed, presenting a challenge from low light interiors to exterior images to present on our website SHOOTFACTORY.
We have compiled some tips to help get you started with architectural photography.
Conducting some groundwork early on will payoff dividends later. For example, research the building to determine it’s inspiration, it’s history and it’s function. This information can guide the photographer in creating an image the coincides with it’s history and use. A good photographer always has a goal in mind, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to experimenting and trying new perspectives.
One of the next considerations is to decide whether an accurate depiction or an abstract representation is appropriate for the image you want to portray. This will affect your lens choice. Using a telephoto lens is best for producing a realistic image. Stand far enough away from the subject and be sure the camera is horizontal with the ground and not tilted upward. This will ensure any parallel lines remain straight and are not distorted. A tripod with a bubble level will also help stabilise the camera. Consider a macro lens for getting up close and focusing on details. Sometimes a photographer wants to take advantage of perspective distortion in order to create intriguing and abstract photographs of a building. To achieve this effect, consider a wide angle lens. A fish eye lens creates an even greater distortion that is circular and surreal in appearance. With the right choice of lens, you can capture some stunning images.
Decide whether or not to include surrounding scenery, as it can help to tell a story, convey street life and communicate the relationship between the people and the structure. For cityscape or skyline shots, consider creating a panorama using online stitching software. Look for any visual elements that will pull the viewers eye into the image, such as a walkway.
Don’t be afraid to walk around the building or lay on the ground when experimenting with unique angles and viewpoints. Including repetitive patterns, such as arches, is a good way to add interest into your shot. Consider filling in the frame with the structure if you don’t need to add a sense of scale from surrounding context. Don’t overlook capturing small details and designs with a macro lens that may tell about the character and style of the building or reveal more about the type of architecture. Remember that indoor shots can be incredibly interesting as well, though they may require you to obtain permission.
Lighting is important in conveying a particular mood. Experiment with different times of day. Sunrise and sunsets create a flattering warm atmosphere. Utilise direct sunlight early or late in the day to emphasise textures and patterns. Side-front lighting can create a three-dimensional appearance. A graduated filter can be used to tone down the sky if it is too bright. Look for interactions between light and the structure. Take advantage of an architectural structure with exterior lighting, as the contrast of deep blue or orange skies can be dynamic and appealing. The prominence of a structure can be represented magnificently through the contrast between a night sky and highly reflective and internally lit windows.
Black and white photographs can result in a type of geometric purity that leads to a dynamic composition. However, in some types of architecture, colour plays an important role. It’s just one of the many considerations and decisions that a photographer must make when photographing architecture.
Regardless of the final goal, there are many variables to consider. Photographers can turn their artistic vision into a lasting reality with some advanced planning and a willingness to try something new!